We have about an eight-hour layover in Amsterdam,arriving about 8:30 a.m. We'll be coming from an adjacent time zone, so jet let isn't an issue. Any tips about whipping into the city to do one or two things and still have plenty of time to get back and through security? I'm guessing we will have 4-5 hours, assuming everything runs on time. Thanks!
You have time to make a quick visit to the city center. This FAQ will give you all the details: http://tinyurl.com/24eep4t Most of the Museums won't be open until around 10am. After arriving at Centraal Station I would walk to Dam Square, and then walk to and visit the Anne Frank House. After that explore the pretty neighborhood a bit. Make your way back to Dam Square and check out the exhibit at the New Church next to the Royal Palace. From Oct. to Feb. there will be a major exhibit about the Ming Dynasty. After that do a walk through of the nearby Red Light District. In this area there are some very good restaurants for Lunch, and then walk back to Centraal for the train back to the airport.
What Michael said is great. You could also do a quick jaunt to Haarlem (see a current RS guide for details). There are luggage storage lockers in a number of locations in the airport - if possible, I'd leave it inside the airport (post-security) to save time on the security check when you come back. The train is quick and easy - factor about 1.5 hours round trip (may take less time). You can reserve Anne Frank timed entry tickets and skip the line. If your flight is late, there's plenty to entertain you at the airport - Rijksmuseum Amsterdam Schiphol between the E and F Piers, there's a new "park" (above Pier D), plus the stuff mentioned in the article linked by Michael.
There are luggage storage lockers in a number of locations in the airport - if possible, I'd leave it inside the airport (post-security) to save time on the security check when you come back. That may not be a good idea. To make life easier it's best to use the lockers in the public Schipol Mall area of the terminal. The problem with using the lockers post security is the terminal is divided in half. On one half of the terminal all gates have flights going to Schengen destinations, the other half the rest of the world. So if you leave your bags in lockers in the wrong half of the terminal you will have to go through immigration twice to reach your locker.
http://www.oregonlive.com/travel/index.ssf/2009/12/extended_layover_lets_visitors.html There are some tour companies offering quick 2 1/2 and 4 hour tours right from the airport. I'm assuming you have to hit the right time, or maybe they are every hour...that article makes for interesting reading.
We had a 9 hour layover and reserved tickets for the Van Gogh museum before leaving U.S. Could've done the Rijksmuseum and a canal tour too but the family just wanted to wander and shop. We left our luggage in lockers at Schipol.
Michael's right. And you probably wouldn't save time on security anyway.stuff you have. Also, Schiphol has a different security system - you go through security only when you are ready to board your flight at your gate. Just be sure you have your boarding passes before you leave the airport. The Maritime Museum, a short bus ride from Central Station, opens at 9 a.m. but you probably won't be in town before nearly 10 anyway.
Another idea that I haven't seen mentioned is the Aalsmeer Flower Market. It's reasonably close to the airport, but I don't know about public transportation. Anyway, it really is an amazing place!
If it is summer and a nice day, I'd go to the Vondelpark and soak up the vibe. Maybe there will be a band at the bandshell. Easy to get to/from on the tram from Centraal.